in ,

Confessions of a Shopaholic

***
2009

‘…this simple rom-com actually delivers the goods in terms of a positive message for young people that acknowledges the sugar-rush of comfort-shopping…’

They may be an endangered species in 2022, but despite the hectoring from the peanut gallery, this blog continues to fly the flag for the humble rom-com; what’s life without a little romance? And here’s a personal recommendation, new on Prime UK, that’s not one of the sainted few (Pretty Woman, When Harry Met Sally and so on) but really deserves a little more love. Reviews of this adaptation of Sophie Kinsella’s books were scathing, but what do critics know about matters of the human heart? Cowriter Tracey Jackson was a bit-part player on Nora Ephron’s Heartburn back in 1986, and while Shopaholic may be Ephron-lite, that bitter-sweet tone makes this one stand out from the crowd.

Isla Fisher plays Becky Bloomwood, a wannabe fashionista who is ideally suited to the frantic pace of Manhattan society life; the only problem is, her ego is writing checks that her back balance can’t cash. Becky thinks she’s going for an interview for a job at a glitzy magazine (run by Alette Naylor aka Kristin Scott Thomas) but is actually being seen by the management at Successful Saving, a magazine that runs contrary to Becky’s extravagant, designer-label impulses. The editor of Successful Saving, however, is dishy Luke (Hugh Dancy), who takes a shine for Becky, but will he still love her when he finds out she can’t juggle her own finances?

Confessions of a Shopaholic has two personable leads, but the support cast fill in any cracks ably; John Goodman and Joan Cusack are Becky’s sensible parents, there’s cameos from Ed Helms, Fred Armisten, Lynn Redgrave, Julie Hagerty, Leslie Bibb and more, and the flashy, gaudy side of Manhattan pops nicely with Fisher’s flair for physical comedy. Confessions of a Shopaholic also deals with genuine financial issues, and the credit-card trap that’s ensnared and destroyed many a youngsters’ dreams; money is usually no object in cinema, but for once, PJ Hagan’s film bothers to count the pennies and examine the cost of Becky’s fake-it-till-you-make-it lifestyle on her sense of self.

For a film you’ve probably never heard of, Confessions of a Shopaholic coined in over a $100 million worldwide, and yet the curb-your-consumption message seems to have noised up critics and audiences. Living on the never-never isn’t a great option, but self-deception isn’t much good either, and this simple rom-com actually delivers the goods in terms of a positive message for young people that acknowledges the sugar-rush of comfort-shopping, but also aims to raise awareness of how material greed can get in the way of spiritual development.

Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. Have great memories of this film (I had read the novel on which its based). My best friend and I used to go to this little local theater every Tuesday night. The theater is long gone, and the birth of her kids made a regular Tuesday night outing impossible. But….when we saw this, it was just the two of us and two old ladies sitting in the front row. The one was obviously nearly deaf, and kept saying “wha’d they say?” every few minutes, and the second woman would repeat the line loudly. It didn’t bother us, it actually made us laugh…and we heard all the punchlines twice. After, my friend said that she hoped we were still watching movies when we were that old. Me, I told her I hoped she was the deaf one….

    • Yes, used to be a couple of aged critics at press screenings, we used to wonder if we’d be like them one day. And now we ARE them.

      While I hate to be disturbed, I love a rando in the audience. The woman who jumped up after five minutes of the French language version of Cyrano de Bergerac and shouted ‘this film is in foreign!’ and grabbed her shopping bags and flounced out, she really sticks in my mind…

  2. Can love conquer debt or the spending impulse? I’m sure more than one relationship hits the rocks when one partner cannot control their spending. This series always seemed to project the notion that you can spend as much as you want but someone – a man – will always be there to save you.

    • You obviously know more about this than me; I think this film manages to have its cake an eat it, it’s a glossy, glitzy film that just about makes a point about consumerism, but I’d imagine that the punchline is distilled over the follow-up books…

  3. Glad to see a film addressing credit cards.
    I’ve always used a credit card since my 20’s when I was out on my own but always paid it off in full each month online. Well, one month I lost internet connection and so my payment didn’t post until the next day. Let me tell you, that was an eye opening experience. The amount of “interest” they charged was usurious and the fact that they charged interest until I made another payment, well, it showed me how predatory they were. Since then I’ve been paying my card off twice a month, just in case. It also helps keep things more real as it hits my bank account more often.

    But even now, I meet peers who act like credit cards are free money. I don’t understand them, at all…

    • Had to dig myself out twice from similar situations; it’s a domino effect, and if one payment goes missing, you get totally shafted for cash. Good subject for a film IMHO.

        • Same here. It seems like free money until you find out the catch; you’re building a house of cards. And there’s tonnes of people who will pay you next week but that’s no use when you need money tomorrow. A lesson worth learning…

Leave a Reply

Loading…

0